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October 3rd, 2013
Remember when I traveled to New York to film 5 short videos for Manilla covering the many ways we can all lead a greener life?
The first video is ready to share! I would love to hear what you think.
Simple Steps to a Greener Life
If you’re not a green king or queen, switching to a more environmentally friendly lifestyle can be daunting. Fortunately, there are simple ways to reduce your environmental impact without drastically impacting your daily life.
1. Phase out plastics from your home—especially those used for food storage:
Plastics can leak harmful toxic chemicals into our food, which can affect our long-term health. Switch to glass storage containers to ensure that your food stays fresh and you stay healthy.
2. Switch to reusable bags:
The next time you visit the supermarket, bring along reusable bags. Leave them in the front seat of your car or in another visible spot so that you remember them. Not only will you be saving the environment, but you’ll also be reducing the clutter in your home.
3. Start using non-toxic cleaning products:
Conventional cleaning products are filled with toxic chemicals that don’t belong in your home. Instead, try to find brands that don’t contain harsh chemicals like. ammonia, synthetic fragrance, chlorine bleach, parabens and phosphates, or consider making your own cleaning supplies.
4. Replace your personal care items with safe, non-toxic alternatives:
The most eco-friendly way to a greener life is to replace items with environmentally conscious alternatives as you run out of them. When your shampoos or other personal care items run low, replace them with non-toxic products like those found on the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. If a product has a high hazard score, it shouldn’t be coming in contact with your body.
5. Leave your shoes at the door:
While the Jones’ lawn might be green, it’s also full of pesticides and other harmful chemicals. All of those toxins march right into your living space when you wear your shoes from outdoors into your home. Create a space outside or in the garage where you can kick off your shoes until the next time you venture outside.
I would love to hear your steps for a greener life!
The video is also airing on the Manilla blog and at Yahoo! Finance. More videos are coming so stay tuned!
photo credit: epSos.de via photopin cc
January 30th, 2013
Plastic wrap is my nemesis. Have you ever asked yourself ’why is there plastic wrap on that?’
I have never touted myself as perfect when it comes to green living, but there are some things that seem so simple, so intuitive that it’s beyond me why they happen.
Take for example this organic cucumber that I recently bought at the market. Yes, it was wrapped in plastic wrap.
My kids love cucumbers and this was the only organic version available. I’m having a hard time with this one. Plastic wrap on a cucumber? It reminds me of Del Monte wrapping their organic bananas in plastic. They added a layer of plastic wrap to a fruit that comes with its own natural, biodegradable packaging. Cucumbers, like bananas, have a peel. Maybe its not as thick as a banana peel, but still.
Needlessly covering fruits and vegetables with plastic wrap is an enormous waste. Also (and probably more important on my end) I really don’t want plastic touching anything I’m going to eat.
So I was torn. Standing there in the supermarket staring at the fruits and vegetables I saw a sea of plastic wrap. My choice was to buy the organic cucumber or leave it behind. I opted for the cucumber along with the plastic wrap.
I wonder if plastic wrap is really necessary for packing fruits and vegetables? If packaging is needed for transporting produce there must be a better alternative.
What do you think about plastic packaging on a cucumber or any other fruit or vegetable?
Wordless Wednesday, a simple post which features photos to convey a message that speaks for itself without using many words.
In honor of not-so Wordless Wednesday I’ve linked up with Better in Bulk, Dagmar’s Momsense, Live and Love Out Loud, Project Alicia, Mama Dweeb, and I Thought I Knew Mama.
photo credit: Ksayer1 via photopin cc
August 14th, 2012
The ESP family. Hannah, the company President, is in red.
Essential Safe Products(ESP) has been a long-time supporter of Groovy Green Livin and I’m honored to have them on board. The site was started by a Florida mother of six who has always been dedicated to providing a healthy and safe environment for her family. She created ESP as a one-stop, easy and friendly resource for those looking to learn about and lead a non-toxic lifestyle in the kitchen and on-the-go. The site is great-offering a large selection of kitchenware and many other products that are free from toxic chemicals.
The site is filled with many non-toxic and eco-friendly products. Slowly I’ve been replacing things in my home with safer alternatives and ESP’s been helping me through the process. I’ve been using the glass Lifefactory water bottle for quite a while and it’s wonderful. I also ordered a few stainless steel cookie sheets and finally ditched the last non-stick holdouts in my kitchen.
Replacing plastic cups
Over the years I’ve replaced our plastic kiddie cups with glass. We have some nice glasses that we keep higher up on the shelves and then there are the ‘kid’ friendly glasses that are strategically placed within reach for the shorter (aka those under 12) people in our house. The glasses on the lower shelves generally have a life expectancy under 1 month. They are dropped regularly and replaced frequently.
Stainless steel Klean Kanteen Pint Cup
When Hannah from Essential Safe Products offered to send me a Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Pint Cup I was so excited. Finally a solution to the frequent glass shattering on the kitchen floor. After using this cup for a few weeks I have fallen head-over-heels in love. It’s durable, reusable, BPA-free, stackable and can be thrown in the dishwasher with the rest of our Klean Kanteen water bottles. The cup is perfect for the beach -no paper or plastic cups needed-and it keeps our drinks nice and cold.
No more plastic straws. Try RSVP Endurance Stainless Steel Straws – pack of 4
Stainless steel straws at Hannah's wedding!
Everyone knows that an organic smoothie tastes better with a straw-or at least my kids think so.
Neil Patrick Harris
We’ve been trying to kick the plastic straw habit for quite some time, but to no avail. It’s hard to say no at a restaurant with three kids in tow. ESP to the rescue. I received 4 RSVP Endurance Stainless Steel Straws to try out. They are fantastic. I can throw them in my bag and they are ready for the next drink or smoothie that comes my way. They are dishwasher safe, reusable, and help our family avoid single-use plastic straws. My only concern is that they will get dirty or grimy inside over time and they’ll be impossible to clean-but it hasn’t happened yet.
Thanks to the generosity of the folks at ESP- they are giving one Groovy Green Livin reader:
- 1 Stainless Steel Pint Cup
- 4 Stainless Steel Straws
- 2 Reusable produce bags (the same bags given to celebrities at the GRAMMYs and Oscars!!)
By entering your name and other information you acknowledge that you have read and are agreeing to our Official Rules.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
My friend Stephanie is also hosting an Essential Safe Products(ESP) giveaway. Head on over to her site, Good Girl Gone Green, and enter to win a Rebel Green Organic Cotton lunch tote.
Disclosure: ESP generously sent me a Klean Kanteen Pint and 4 Stainless Steel Straws to test out. The opinions are my very own.
June 12th, 2012
For the past seven years, BPA has been on the minds of parents, consumers and public health advocates. I’ve been following the BPA issue closely and devoted much of my writing to this topic. I was even interviewed by ABC World News about the FDA’s decision not to ban BPA. There have been some wonderful victories during the seven years, including 11 states taking action to ban BPA from baby products.
BPA in food packaging and canned foods
Since a groundbreaking study co-published by the Breast Cancer Fund and Silent Spring Institute showed that food packaging was a major source of BPA exposure, consumers have started to shift their attention to BPA in canned food. The study found dangerous levels of BPA were even found in a wide variety of canned foods specifically marketed towards kids. Over the past year, consumers sent more than 70,000 messages to canned food companies telling them to stop using BPA and to replace it with a safer alternative.
The good news is that many companies are starting to listen. Muir Glen tomatoes, Trader Joe’s and Eden Foods have all been credited with eliminating BPA from some of their can linings. I recently wrote about Campbell’s announcing its plan to move away from BPA.
Removing BPA is a start, but not enough
Removing BPA from can linings is a great start, but it’s still not enough. With the exception of Eden Foods, most companies have not been transparent about the alternatives they will use in place of BPA. The information is nowhere to be found on their websites.
We want companies to know that “BPA-free” isn’t enough. As new alternatives to BPA are discovered some troubling information has been uncovered. The notoriously bad plastic PVC is an FDA-approved alternative for BPA in can linings, despite the fact that vinyl chloride is a known human carcinogen.
That’s why the Breast Cancer Fund’s Cans Not Cancer campaign is demanding that manufacturers publicly disclose what they’re using instead of BPA so that we, as consumers, know what we’re eating. We understand the challenges of moving away from BPA, but that makes it all the more important for manufacturers to be transparent about the chemicals they’re using instead and the review process that led them to that particular alternative.
Campbell’s needs disclose what BPA alternatives they’ll use
Still no word from Campbell’s, so today (June 12) the Breast Cancer Fund launched a social media day of action, demanding that Campbell’s make public what BPA alternatives it is using or plans to use. Our message is that Campbell’s decision to move away from BPA is a victory for consumers, who have been demanding this change, but to truly be an industry leader, the company needs to fully disclose the alternatives that will be used.
What you can do
Just say no to plastic.
The study released by the Breast Cancer Fund and Silent Spring Institute shows shows that we can reduce our BPA exposure significantly by cooking fresh foods at home, avoiding canned foods, choosing glass and stainless steel food and beverage containers, and not microwaving in plastic.
Post on your Facebook page
We are all sharing posts on our Facebook pages to hopefully get Campbell’s attention. Here’s a sample post:
• Think BPA-Free means safe? Think again. Learn more at http://www.breastcancerfund.org/big-picture-solutions/make-our-products-safe/cans-not-cancer/faq.html
Post to Twitter
Get the word out through your Twitter account. Here’s a sample Tweet:
• #BPA free does not=safe. Tell us companies: what are you using instead? Is it safe? http://bit.ly/BPA-FAQ #CansNotCancer
There’s no way to completely avoid BPA until Congress passes the Safe Chemicals Act, which will require chemical manufacturers to show their products are safe before they end up in the things we buy. The chemical industry has acknowledged the need for federal reform of the chemical policy to restore public confidence in the safety of their products. Now they just need to do something about it.
If you would like to help- check out the many ways to GET INVOLVED over at Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, Breast Cancer Fund, Healthy Child Healthy World and Moms Clean Air Force.
Do you avoid BPA? How about BPA free products?
[Photo used under Creative Commons from Pittaya/Flickr]
Linked up to Seasonal Celebration Sunday Natural Mothers Network
February 13th, 2012
When my three boys were babies they wanted to chew on everything. It seemed as though all of their teeth came in at once. I struggled to find a teether that was safe. Most of the teethers on the market were made from soft plastic or PVC and I knew they could have phthalates. Phthalates have been shown to disrupt hormone activity, reduce sperm counts and have been linked to liver cancer and breast cancer. Not something I wanted my little guys chewing on. I wanted something non-toxic and ultimately ended up wetting washcloths and freezing them.
Dress Me Up Organic
If only Dress Me Up Organic had been around when my guys were teething! Dress Me Up Organic is a small, green, independent toy company located in Victoria British Columbia, on the west coast of Canada. They specialize in handmade, natural, organic cotton soft toys, eco-teethers and baby linens for young children.
Jen Williams, mom to five children, is the founder of this innovative company. Jen has an environmental background and has always been passionate about environmental causes. When she chose to have kids she was frustrated that there were no products that she felt comfortable giving her kids. This was especially true when it came to teethers, since she didn’t want to use homeopathic tablets, plastics or rubber, and there were not a lot of other options.
Organic Teething Bonbon
Jen started Dress Me Up Organic as a way to bring great quality products to parents so that they can feel confident that the products are safe when they give them to their children. One of the top sellers at her shop is the organic Teething Bonbon, which was designed by her friend, Tressa Brotsky (a mom as well).
What I love about the Teething Bonbon
- They are handmade
- No plastic!
- No toxic chemicals
- The Teething Bonbon is made from certified organic cotton and naturally antibacterial lamb’s wool
- It can go in the washing machine and dryer
- Just dip the end knots in cooled boiled water and leave the center dry. Throw it in the freezer and it’s ready for use!
Since I don’t have little ones around anymore I wasn’t able to try it out first hand, but I know my kids would have been chewing on the Teething Bonbon. I would have been relieved knowing they were getting safe relief from their teething pain.
Disclosure: I was sent a complimentary Teething Bonbon from Dress Me Up Organic for review. The opinions are my very own.
February 6th, 2012
I’ve always found the oil aisle at the market to be one of the most impressive and overwhelming aisles to walk down. The shelves are lined with every imaginable variety of oil – peanut, olive, canola, vegetable and coconut –and each type has a few different brands and sizes.
When cooking with any oil it’s important to not heat it beyond its smoke point — the temperature at which the oil begins to smoke and discolor. Using oil above its smoke point can generate toxic fumes and harmful free radicals. Most labels on bottles of oil will give you the smoke point temperature for that particular oil. All oils offer different benefits. Some are better for baking and some for salad dressing.
Here are a few oils that are a chef’s best friend:
Coconut oil is a subject of much debate in the cooking community. Why? Coconut oil has a high level of saturated fat. Federal dietary guidelines recommend that consumers limit saturated fat to less than 10 percent of daily calories. But nutritionists tell us that not all saturated fats are the same. The main saturated fat in coconut oil is lauric acid, which increases levels of good HDL and bad LDL in the blood.
Suggested use: cooking at high heat
Olive oil is considered by some to be the healthiest oil because it provides a mix of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. It can also be obtained in a very pure minimally processed form, which is a healthier version than a processed olive oil. Olive oil has a fairly high cooking temperature and adds great flavor to many dishes. Olive oil would be best for cooking at medium heat.
Suggested use: light cooking or sauteing, salad dressing and other low temperature recipes
If there are no nut allergies in your family, peanut oil is the perfect choice for cooking. It has a high cooking temperature and is great for frying or any type of cooking at high heat.
Suggested use: stir frying, deep frying or cooking at high heat
Canola oil sometimes gets a bad rap. It comes from canola seeds. They are a genetic variation of rapeseed that was developed in the 1960s. It’s a good source of monounsaturated fats, the kind which can help reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart disease. The problem with canola oil is most canola oil is genetically modified (93 percent in the U.S.). If you are going to use canola oil make sure it’s certified organic.
Suggested use: baking and stir frying at lower temperatures
Whatever type of oil you choose look for oils that are minimally processed and organic whenever possible. Also look for glass bottles over plastic to avoid potential leaching of toxic chemicals.
What oils do you cook with?
January 18th, 2012
Deanna Duke wears many hats. She is a mother, author and founder of the well known environmental blog, Crunchy Chicken. Deanna is also a self-proclaimed urban homesteader who lives in Seattle with her husband , two children and three chickens, a rescued chihuahua and four fish. Over the past few months I have gotten to know Deanna through a group that we both belong to: Green Moms Carnival. Deanna is a woman filled with compassion, passion and humor-all of which come through loud and clear in her new book.
Deanna’s book, The Non-Toxic Avenger: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You, walks us through how pervasive toxins are in our environment. Her husbands cancer and her son’s autism are the driving forces in her commitment to reducing the amount of toxins her family is exposed to in their everyday life. Deanna share’s with humor and insight the ways we can all avoid and reduce our own exposure to toxic chemicals.
I am honored that Deanna invited me to participate in her book tour. I had the opportunity to ask her a few questions after reading her book.
Lori: What is the most worrisome toxin out there?
Deanna: Right now I’d say it’s Bisphenol A (BPA) mostly because of the prevalence of this chemical. It’s in plastics labeled #7 (and some labeled #3), in almost all canned food and beverages, on cash register receipts and on paper money. The concerning thing about BPA is its potential health effects. Recent research has shown that BPA not only is a hormone disruptor and has the potential for causing neurological issues, but that it can make healthy breast tissue cells act like cancerous ones and can block the efficacy of certain breast cancer treatments. Additional research has shown that BPA may cause arrhythmia and heart attacks in women.
Lori: What are your top three products to avoid and why?
- Non-stick products: Anything made with Teflon, stain resistant material or non-stick materials, particularly in food packaging. These all contain some form of Perfluorochemicals (PFCs), which persist in the body for decades and present potential harm to a wide range of organs.
- Personal care products with parabens: Parabens are another hormone disruptor and can cause organ toxicity.
- All products with artificial fragrances and parfums: Artificial fragrances harbor the chemicals phthalates. Phthalates have been found to disrupt the endocrine system and cause reproductive abnormalities in males. Some studies also link phthalates to liver cancer.
Lori: If you were advising someone on how to begin detoxifying their lives where would you tell them to begin?
Deanna: Start in the bathroom. Get rid of toxic cleaning supplies and analyze all your personal care products for parabens and artificial fragrance. The process of ridding toxins can be very overwhelming so I generally advise people to pick what’s doable for them and start with that. They can always go further once they’ve tackled, say, hair care products. It’s easy to feel like you have to do it all at once but, like everything else, pick your battles.
Lori: What feedback have you received on your book so far?
Deanna: Most of the feedback I’ve gotten was what an easy read it is and that it is funny. I tried to take a topic that is, for the most part, frightening and make it into something approachable and easy to read, while at the same time educational. So, I’m happy that I’ve accomplished that goal.
Lori: Do you see movement in the right direction when it comes to toxic chemicals? Are you optimistic?
Deanna: Absolutely. Recent research and increased public awareness have caused a lot of changes not only with manufacturers offering up alternatives but also from a legislative standpoint as well. From local laws being written in states banning BPA from certain products and other chemicals to the introduction of the Safe Chemicals Act in the Senate, I’m hopeful that, between consumer awareness and scientific research, we can prevent many of the health and environmental effects that these chemicals can cause.
Deanna’s book, The Non-Toxic Avenger: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You, is a worthwhile guide to help navigate our way through an environment filled with hidden toxins. If you haven’t already, check out Deanna over at the Crunchy Chicken.
Disclosure: I was sent a free copy of The Non-Toxic Avenger for review. This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase the book through the link it will put a few pennies in my pocket. The opinions are my very own.